MichaelgSeamans's Blog

Illiterate ramblings from a photographer.

Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains: Guest Blog by Climber Chad Butrick

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Chad Butrick takes in the sights from the top of the Uncompahgre Gorge in Ouray, Colo., on Feb. 11, 2010.

For over two months I have been documenting two disabled climbers train and prepare to do what some think to be impossible or just simply preposterous.  Butrick and climbing partner Chad Jukes, hope to be the first all disabled climbing team to climb three formidable technical ice routes on two mountains in the Ruth Gorge in the Alaska Range. The story has been told largely through my words and images. Sure I’ve pretended to be a reporter and use quotes to help bridge the gap between my world and that of the two Chads. But, I could never pretend to tell this story as well as the people who have set out to laugh in the face of their injuries.

In this installment I am handing over the reigns to Chad Butrick to tell you about this endeavor in his own words with my images.  With out further ado, Mr. Chad Butrick. (crowd cheers here) Check out the gallery of Chad Butrick at bottom of this post. Some pictures you have already seen and others are new. Enjoy.

If you have any questions for Chad please comment on the blog and he will answer as best as he can.

In Chad’s Words.

Chad Butrick sinks his pick into the ice while leading the fourth pitch of Horsetail Falls on Red Mountain Pass south of Ouray, Colo., on Feb. 18, 2010.

September 13, 2005 changed my life. I was traveling from Kansas City, Mo., to Columbia, Mo., to complete a private investigation. During that time I worked for First Advantage Investigative Services conducting all sorts of private investigations. Approximately, 40 miles from Columbia I was involved in a motor vehicle collision. My life was changed – after a life flight, ambulance ride, five surgeries, intravenous antibiotics, 4 months (one and a half of those in a hospital) I woke up in a hospital bed facing the reality that I would be an amputee for the rest of my life. Twenty eight years old and I was disabled.

The outdoors have always drawn me in. I remember when my parents told me that we were moving to Montana. We were camped at Round Lake in Idaho. My brother Curtis and I were in an old Army style green tent. I was pumped and with good reason. I had fun with the outdoors in Montana. Whether it was climbing up to the cliffs behind the water tower, riding a bike out to the lake to catch dinner, or the failed attempt to climb Ksanka peak (unbeknownst to my parents) living in Montana was great. We moved from Montana when I was 16 to the midwest. I missed the mountains but found my place in the midwest.

“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.” — Sir Francis Younghusband

During the convalescence, the weight of my new reality was fully on me. What did life look like after loosing a leg? What would I do and how would I do it? After asking my nurse case manager how I was ever going to hike or climb again she told me, “Get new hobbies.” Right then and there I made the choice to take control of my life and chase my dreams. To never take no for an answer and to show that disabled does not mean unabled. I had tasted the choice gifts that the mountains had to offer. I would like to thank that nurse case manager, you motivated me more than you know. I knew the struggle and some how in the weakness of my situation I would endure the struggle and continue to wrestle with the mountains. It is funny to me how weakness has the potential to bring strength.

Fast forward to early Jan 2010 I am working with my parents building a deck on my house and I get a call from my friend Chad Jukes. I had met Chad during an Ice Climbing event sponsored by Paradox Sports in Ouray CO. Chad got right to the point and asked me if I was up for climbing in Alaska. It took me half a second to decide and here we are training for the climb of our life. (so far)

Alaska is this whole other world that I have only dreamed about. On a trip to South Korea I landed in Anchorage on a lay over. I remember staring at Mt. McKinley out of the window of the plane thinking that I would be there one day. It is truly and honor to participate in a climb like this and fulfill a dream. I am also honored that I have the opportunity to help a worthy non-profit (Amped Outdoors) as they assist other individuals with disabilities with their ice climbing program.

I would also like to thank Black Diamond, Paradox Sports and the other sponsors that are on board. You are making this possible. Thank you so much for your support.

Climb on!

Written by michael G. Seamans

March 28, 2010 at 12:20 pm

One Response

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  1. This just keeping getting better and better. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

    Rich Abrahamson

    March 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm


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